Finding your perfect exercise
Number One: Spin Cycling
If you think this is going to be like a lovely bicycle ride around the park on a summer’s day – forget it.
Spin Cycling is tough. Expect to sweat, pant and wonder why the hell you ever sat on the saddle. But at the end you know you have had a damn good work-out. If you are just starting on exercise, check with your GP before starting a Spin-Cycle programme.
Exercise type: Aerobic but low impact. This means it will increase cardio-vascular health and burn calories, but does not put strain on your joints, though your knees will feel it if you put the resistance up too high before they are strong.
Energy rating: High. Depending upon a number of factors, such as weight and workout intensity, on average you can burn up to 600/700 calories an hour. Each class is 45 minutes or an hour so you should use up a minimum of 400 calories. You are using your lower body so the primary areas exercised are bottom and legs, however, a good instructor will show you how to engage your core so your stomach is getting a good work-out too. Your shoulders should be relaxed but your biceps will be working to help you up and down from the seat. So, in general an all over work-out with more focus on your lower body.
What to expect: Spin Cycles are not like the standard gym exercise bikes. They have a monitor to check speed (revolutions per minute) and distance and a twist-dial which allows you to put resistance up and down. Motivational music is the norm as is a loud, fit instructor who never seems to break a sweat. Good classes start with a warm-up – getting your legs moving and your heart-rate up. Then your instructor will take you through a series of different modes by taking the resistance up and down and changing pace. Modes will include seated climbs, standing climbs, HITs, and fast downhill. One of the toughest is when you do five seconds sitting and then five seconds standing for a full minute – your muscles will be screaming.
You should get sweaty and will be out of breath but not to the point of gasping or feeling light headed. If you do – then you need to slow and reduce resistance.
Essentials: Wear loose tops and gym trousers which come in at your ankle. Light gym shoes are necessary. Also make sure you come equipped with a towel for brow mopping and a litre bottle of water. Some spin-cycling junkies bring a gel saddle to make their bottom more comfortable and cycling gloves to take the pressure off their palms.
The challenge: This is an exercise which never gets easier. The whole point of spin cycling is that you challenge yourself and push yourself into the pain realm. As you get fitter, you push harder. It is never going to that spin in the park!
Avoid if: As with any exercise, you should always check with your GP before starting; you have problems with hip or knee joints; you have any type of heart problems. Obesity is not a reason to avoid, but check with your GP first and take advice on how hard to push yourself.